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Crisis In Sudan: Protests Continue Despite President Resignation. Now Target Is Military Council

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Crisis In Sudan: Protests Continue Despite President Resignation. Now Target Is Military Council

Sudanese demonstrators gather near the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum on April 15, 2019 [Ahmed Mustafa/AFP]

On April 11th, the military in Sudan carried out a military coup and toppled former President Omar al-Bashir. This took place after 4 months of protests from the Sudanese people.

The removal of Bashir was announced by First Vice-President and Minister of Defense lt. gen. Awad Ibn-Auf, who is also the head of the higher security committee. He announced the formation of a two-year military council and the dissolution of the 2005 constitution, accepted after South Sudan separated itself from the country.

In his statement, Ibn Auf affirmed the Council’s keenness to create proper atmosphere for the peaceful transfer of power, building political parties, holding free and fair elections by the end of the transitional period, the establishment of a permanent constitution for the country.

Despite that the protests, and the sit-in in front of the ministry of defense in the capital Khartoum continued.

On April 13th, Ibn Auf resigned as the chairman of the military council in a televised speech.

He named Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan as his successor.

“This is for the benefit of our nation, without having to look at special interests, big or small that may impede its progress,” he said in a brief statement.”I would like to recommend that you work together and reach a solution very speedily.”

Ibn Auf said he was confident al-Burhan “will steer the ship to safe shores”, and added he was stepping aside to “preserve unity” of the armed forces.

The new leader was one of the generals who reached out to protesters at the week-long encampment near the military headquarters, meeting with them face to face, and listening to their views.

Al-Burhan also said that the transition could potentially take up two years after carrying out consultations with opposition leaders about forming a temporary civilian government.

The head of Sudan’s rapid support forces, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo known by his nickname Hemeti, was appointed deputy of Sudan’s transitional military council.

He also accepted the resignation of the head of the feared National Intelligence and Security Service, Salah Abdallah Mohammed Salih — widely known as Salih Ghosh — the military council announced.

Despite the actions, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which has been leading protests to demand a civilian government, called for more demonstrations

“We assert that our revolution is continuing and will not retreat or deviate from its path until we achieve … our people’s legitimate demands of handing over power to a civilian government,” it said.

The SPA called for the establishment of a transitional council which would be protected by the armed forces, adding it would exert “all forms of peaceful pressure to achieve the objectives of the revolution.”

Thus, the sit-in continued on April 15th, and would presumably continue until the demands are met.

The entire list of demands is unclear, but One of the alliance’s leaders, Omer Eldigair, said in the statement that the demands include restructuring the country’s feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), whose chief was removed from the position.

The Freedom and Change alliance insisted that civilian representatives should be accepted onto the military council and that a civilian government should be formed to run daily administration.

Another demand is the prosecution of former Sudanese officials under Omar al-Bashir’s rule.

Finally, the SPA demanded the confiscation of properties belonging to his National Congress Party and the release of soldiers who sided with their “revolution.”

On April 14th, member of the Transitional Military Council, Gen. Yasser Abdul-Rahman Al-Atta, has called on the political parties to provide visions, views and initiatives and to explain the form of the government that will rule in the interim period.

He referred to formation of a coordination committee between the parties and the Transitional Military Council to contribute to the realization of the aspirations and desires of the Sudanese people.

On the same day, Military Council chairman al-Burhan relieved Ibn-Auf, and his deputy, Lt. Gen. Kamal Abdul-Maarouf. He also reformed of the Armed Forces Command and the command of the Police Forces.

He said that the Transitional Military Council issued a decree on formation of a committee to re-structure the Commission for Combating Corruption.

National activists Hisham Mohamed Ali (Wad Galiba) and Mohamed Al-Hassan Mohamed Ali were also ordered for immediate release from imprisonment.

The “pro-democracy movement” now needs to identify a representative, unifying and merit-based transitional leadership.

Following that, they will need to establish plans for the reforms of key institutions – justice, economic, media, legislative, electoral. After these institutions function, then free and fair elections may have hope of happening.

Initially led by professionals such as lawyers, teachers and doctors, the protests quickly escalated into wider calls for political change, with women taking a leading role. They also seem impressively organized and disciplined, as if they’re being, at least partially, led behind the scenes.

In terms of reaction by the international community, on April 14th, deputy leader of Sudan’s ruling military council, Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Daqlo, met in Khartoum with US Chargé d’Affaires Steven Koutsis.

The U.S. envoy welcomed the role of the military council in achieving stability and underlined the importance of continued cooperation between the two sides to enhance Sudanese-U.S. relations.

On the same day, the Arab League expressed its satisfaction with the steps undertaken by the Military Council.

The statement stressed the necessity for adherence to dialogue as the sole means for realization of the expected political transformation, calling on the international community to support stability and reconciliation in Sudan.

Separately, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation said that its closely monitoring the situation and expressed support to the choices of the Sudanese people and welcome all the decisions and regulations taken in this connection.

Saudi King Salman announced an aid package for Sudan, including petroleum products, wheat and medicines.

Saudi Arabia itself also said it backed the Military Council’s actions in a statement.

“The Kingdom expresses its support for the steps announced by the Transitional Military Council in preserving the lives and property. It stands by the Sudanese people and hopes that such steps will achieve security and stability for Sudan,” the statement read.

Saudi Arabia also called on the Sudanese people “of all categories prioritize national interest in order to achieve their aspirations and hopes for prosperity and development.”

Iran, on its part called for parties to exercise restraint and hold dialogue.

“The principled policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is not to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said.

Qassemi said Iran has always called for stability and security in all Muslim countries, including Sudan, and will continue to do so in the future.

“We hope that all Sudanese parties would show restraint, keep calm, use the policy of interaction and dialogue, and adopt peaceful means when pursuing their demands,” he added.

Egypt also issued a statement saying that it supports the people of Sudan. The Foreign Ministry’s statement expresses support of developments in Sudan, emphasizing it stands by “all choices made by the brotherly people of Sudan and their desire to freely shape the future of their country at this crucial stage.”

It also said that Egypt will continue to “respect the complete sovereignty of Sudan and its national decision.” It called on the international community to respect the decision of the Sudanese people and that it has full confidence in their ability to recover from the crisis.

On the South Sudan side, the country announced that its airspace would remain open and commercial flights would go as planned, despite Sudan closing its own.

Reports by UN-run Radio Miraya and some social media users claimed South Sudan was inadvertently affected by the closure because Sudan controlled its airspace.

Despite the claims, director of Juba International Airport, JIA, dismissed the assertion in an interview with Eye Radio.

“Only flights to and from Dubai and Egypt that are passing through airspace of Sudan are only planes that did not come to Juba yesterday,” Kur Koul Ajieu said.

“Kenya airways, Rwanda airlines, Ethiopian airlines and flight 540 from Kenya are not passing through the air space of Sudan, they came,” he further claimed.

The situation in South Sudan is also far from stable, on April 12th, Former South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar said that he had no faith in the possibility for the country’s leaders to meet the May 12th deadline to form a national unity government.

He said a six-month extension of the deadline was needed in order to unify defense forces and deploy them, demilitarize the capital Juba and other population centers, agree on the devolution of power and the release of political prisoners.

Machar said he discussed the extension with President Salva Kiir during a retreat at the Vatican that ended on April 11th with an appeal by Pope Francis to the leaders to respect an armistice and resolve their differences.

Neighboring Ethiopia also announced its support for the Sudanese people.

In a statement, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed praised protesters for their resilience whiles remaining organized and orderly. “Your efforts to voice your demands in a responsible manner is a reflection of your aspirations for a strengthened and democratic Sudan.”

Other than that, there are no reports of unrest from Sudan having a strong impact on Ethiopia.

Sudan’s other neighbor – Eritrea on April 8th issued a statement to warn its citizens of insecurity in Sudan.

The common border between the two neighbors was reopened only in February this year, at a time nationwide protests were piling pressure on Bashir’s government.

Other than that, Eritrea has not provided a statement on any further developments and there appear to be no reports of any unrest spilling into the country from Sudan.

Both Ethiopia and Eritrea are, of course, far from stable and if the situation in Sudan worsens it could definitely impact both countries, as well as South Sudan in a very negative manner. For now, it appears that the effects are limited.

The International Anticrisis Center also warned of unrest in Sudan as a result of external actors seeking to take advantage of the situation in the country.

The current “pro-democracy” leadership of the protests, very much resembles an attempt to destabilize the already very fragile status quo in the political and social sphere in Sudan.

The high level of organization and discipline, but only up to a point, is very showing of some foreign force in play in the situation. The protests are very well-organized, but at the same time, they don’t have a clear leader or any concrete agenda and that jeopardizes the country socially and economically in the short and long-term.

There are numerous examples of similar situations throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, when a developing country, very much comparable to Sudan or even Algeria, undergoes a regime change by self-proclaimed “democrats.” Following the revolution, the situation in the country often begins to rapidly worsen and deteriorate.Mmajor business establishments and factories are being taken apart or seized by foreign investors, aimed at further taking advantage of the situation At the same time the “democratic” elites that led the revolution and their “Western partners” accumulate wealth.

On the other hand, if a left or right-wing autocracy shows resilience and manages to survive, it, at the very least, prevents a sudden and drastic collapse of the economy of the country. It may even help the country develop further in the long-term.

If there is not ‘soft transit of power’ in the current situation, Sudan, which is already struggling with migration, will undergo an even deeper crisis and people would become poorer.

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  • Sinbad2

    How many countries does President Stump plan to destroy, he must be going for the record.

  • Saddam Hussein

    The Sudanese people have to wake up, democracy is just a silly meme. The Israeli regime wants to destroy their country, just like they tried in Syria and failed.